The National Postsecondary Strategy Institute (NPSI) in partnership with Reach Higher and Common App is launching the Power of Hope Awards to recognize school districts that engage school counselors in leadership roles to improve student college and career success outcomes.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama articulated the message of the power of hope in January 2017 at her last speech at School Counselor of the Year Award Ceremony– “the belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it, that we strive to instill in all children, especially across districts with large percentages of low-income minority students.” School counselors are integral to accelerating this goal—serving as key stakeholders to facilitate and implement proven school district academic and career pathway strategies. Utilizing data to inform the strategic use of resources and personnel is central to overall student success.

Multiple awards will be presented and we invite school districts that meet the following eligibility guidelines to apply for the Power of Hope Award.

Eligibility Guidelines

  • School districts must have a minimum of 50% Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) students.
  • Have school counselors that use research-based data elements to lead and implement FAFSA completion initiatives and other grade s 6 – 12 college and career readiness programs
  • Schools classified as rural or located on Native American reservations are highly encouraged to apply.
  • Submit evidence of significant increases in FAFSA completion rates attained and maintained for two of the past three school years.
  • Evidence of significant progress in at least two of the 20 research-based college and career metrics recognized by NPSI. (If other college/career metrics have been established by the state within which the district resides, a waiver to substitute such criteria will be considered.)
  • Demonstrated evidence that a college/career organizational structure has been or is in the process of being established. 
  • Evidence that school counselors are integral to the postsecondary advising process in the district.

NPSI, Reach Higher, and Common App encourage all eligible districts to apply. For more information, please view our recorded webinar

The application deadline is December 15, 2020. Questions regarding the Power of Hope Award application process can be sent to Amanda Mitchell at at any point prior to the application deadline. 

Winners of the Power of Hope Award will be presented during the NPSI national virtual conference March 4-7, 2021. 

The National Postsecondary Strategy Institute (NPSI) supports districts to solve problems of practice through devising strategies and interventions that close attainment gaps across race and income, around a framework of leadership, a data strategy and school counselor engagement. The Power of Hope Award advances the work of Reach Higher and the vision that students have the ability to achieve educational and career goals. The award is built on the belief that the nation’s economic growth is dependent upon continuing to significantly increase the percentages of low income and predominantly minority students’ successfully completing.